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LGBTQ rights party will feature Native dance troupe, local vocalists

Posted: July 29, 2013 - 12:06am

JUNEAU — Activists Maureen Longworth and Lin Davis have been advocating for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) rights in Juneau since they moved here from California in the ‘90s. But the couple found themselves in Seattle for their friends’ wedding on June 26, the day Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. That day, the city exploded with gay pride, Longworth and Davis said.

“The streets were all decorated; you’d go into a bakery and there’d be cupcakes with little figurines of two men and two women on them,” Longworth said. “There was a big rally in front of the courthouse. But we didn’t know any of those people, so we thought, ‘We’re going to come home and plan something for Juneau.’”

And plan they did. Friday and Saturday will feature a series of LGBTQ rights events, organized by Longworth, Davis and a team of about eight other activists.

An Equality Celebration, featuring live performances by Native dance troupe Yees Ku Oo, the Juneau Pride Chorus, drag performer Vanessa LaVoce-Kellie and others begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, immediately following Food Truck Friday. Festivities will continue until 9:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Joshua Decker of the ACLU of Alaska Foundation, family lawyer Allison Mendel and certified public accountant Marjorie Kaiser will answer questions about the impact of the recent Supreme Court decision on Alaska. The forum will take place at 1 p.m. in McPhetres Hall at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 325 Gold St.

Longworth said the event organizers had no trouble rallying the troops — and the dance troupe — to support the cause and volunteer time at the celebration.

“People are really thrilled to be doing a volunteer performance for something they believe is the right thing,” Longworth said.

Organizers invited local legislators and places of worship to make statements of support at the Friday event, she said.

The events are sponsored by the Southeast Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Pride Foundation, PFLAG Juneau, Alaskans Together for Equality, The Rendezvous, Rockwell and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Money raised will go to ACLU of Alaska Foundation.

The couple emphasized the events are meant to be family-friendly. Recent Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Wendy Byrnes will perform “Somewhere over the Rainbow” at the Friday night party.

“That’s an example of how we’ll all be united — all the generations — because everybody knows that song,” Longworth said with a laugh.

Davis said that after so many years of working for rights in Alaska, “it’s a nice time for the whole community to celebrate.”

“There’s been so much prejudice and discrimination,” she said. “It’s so nice to have something to celebrate.”

Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com.

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